ALGIERS (FIBA AfroBasket 2017) - In recent months, Abdellah Hamdini has emerged as a star in the making for Algeria's senior men's national team.
He may have been left out of the country's final roster for the FIBA AfroBasket held in Tunisia two years ago, but the 24-year-old power forward developed so much that he has become a major option to represent Algeria in this year’s African championship in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo.
"Our national team will soon start the preparations, and we will try our best to qualify for this year’s FIBA AfroBasket 2017." - Hamdini
Playing for a team comprised mostly of Algeria internationals, and in the absence of star player Mohamed Harat, Hamdini shined to become the game-changer for the Algerian champions GS Petroliers who came in sixth in the ACC.
And, although his numbers speak for themselves - he averaged team highs of 16 points and 14.7 efficiency rate per contest - it is his mindset to succeed at the FIBA AfroBasket in August that set him apart.
He insists he had fun playing alongside his national team teammates in Cairo, but reaching a spot in Brazzaville ranks now among his top priorities.
"Our national team will soon start the preparations, and we will try our best to qualify for the FIBA AfroBasket 2017," he told FIBA.com. "It is always a great pleasure for me to play for the national team because it is the highest recognition that an athlete can have."
Despite Hamdini's determination of getting a chance to represent Algeria for the first time since the FIBA AfroBasket 2013, the 2.02m forward will have to play as well in the FIBA Africa Zone 1 qualifiers against Morocco, Libya and Tunisia as he did in the ACC.
"We have a group of players who will proudly fight for our country," he explained.
He even compared the level of competitiveness between the FIBA ACC with the AfroBasket. "[It] has almost the same level even if the national team competition remains the top level of an athlete’s career."
It's been over two decades since Algeria last finished on the podium of the FIBA AfroBasket.
At the time, the North Africans advanced to the FIBA Basketball World 2002 in Indianapolis after finishing second as hosts of the FIBA African championship 2001.
Can Algeria do better than the 6th-place accomplished two years ago in Rades, Tunisia?
"Our 6th-place finish in Tunisia might seem poor, but given the technical level and competitiveness of the other teams like Nigeria, Angola, Senegal, this was a good result," Hamdini offered.